Best Of NASA

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This series presents the latest findings of key NASA missions, from robotic explorers crawling on the surface of Mars, to high-tech instruments designed to capture high-energy light from black holes.

2 Seasons, 26 Episodes
May 15, 2016
Best Of NASA

Best Of NASA Full Episode Guide

  • Epic timelapse sequence from space shows a year in the life of our planet.

  • The spacecraft Cassini fly close to this icey planet, discovering whisps of water vapor being shot out of geysers at its surface. What can we learn about interior of this mysterious moon?

  • Glorious animated sequence describes the final leg of the Cassini spacecraft's epic journey: through Saturn's rings and into the atmosphere of the giant planet, where it will burn up in a blaze of glory.

  • NASA launched the spacecraft OSIRIS-REx in dramatic fashion, sending in on an historic mission to the asteroid Bennu, to collect and return a sample.

  • NASA's Cassini spacecraft has radar vision that allows it to peer through the haze that surrounds Saturn's largest moon, Titan. This video focuses on Shangri-la, a large, dark area on Titan filled with dunes. The long, linear dunes are thought to be comprised of grains derived from hydrocarbons that have settled out of Titan's atmosphere.

  • Curiosity has a long-awaited left turn and is beginning a more aggressive climb up Mt. Sharp. Along the way, it studied fractures in the ancient sandstone where groundwater once flowed and permeated the surrounding rock, causing changes in chemistry that created light-toned haloes around the fractures.

  • Analysis of images from NASA's Dawn mission reveals that dwarf planet Ceres hosts an unexpectedly young cryovolcano that formed with the past billion years.

  • Scientists are closely monitoring a giant iceberg in the making, as a crack in Antarctica's Pine Island glacier widens.

  • Aside from the Sun, the solar system's largest magnetosphere belongs to Jupiter - a gargantuan magnetic windsock with a tail stretching out to the orbit of Saturn. NASA has sent the Juno spacecraft to peer beneath Jupiter's clouds, giving scientists their first glimpse of the dynamo driving this giant magnetic field.

  • The Juno spacecraft will for the first time peer below Jupiter's dense cover of clouds to answer questions about the gas giant and the origins of our solar system. Juno's primary goal will be to reveal the story of Jupiter's formation and evolution.

  • Ceres' lack of giant impact basins presents a puzzle to scientists. They expected to observe more large craters on the dwarf planet than have been found by NASA's Dawn mission.

  • NASA solar scientist Nicholeen Viall describes the Sun's journey during a year of images captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The images show 171 angstrom light, which highlights material at temperatures around 600,000 Kelvin and shows features in the upper transition region and quiet corona of the sun.

  • The size of falling raindrops depends on where the cloud is and where the drops originate in the cloud. Scientists now have 3D snapshots of raindrops and snowflakes from space. With the new global data on raindrop and snowflake sizes this mission provides, they can improve rainfall estimates from satellite data and in forecast models, helping us understand and prepare for extreme weather events.

  • The monsoon is a seasonal rain and wind pattern that NASA satellites and models are allowing us to see as never before. Monsoon rains provide reservoirs of water that support the natural environment by replenishing aquifers. However, too much rainfall routinely causes disasters, including flooding of the major rivers and landslides in areas of steep topography.

  • Improving hurricane forecasts means testing historical storms with today's sophisticated models and supercomputers. NASA and NOAA work together in gathering ground and satellite observations, as well as experimenting with forecast models. As a result of this collaboration, model resolution has increased, and scientists are discovering more about the processes that occur within these storms.

  • NASA scientists used almost 30 years of data from the NASA/USGS Landsat satellites to track changes in vegetation in Alaska and Canada. Of the more than 4 million square miles, 30% had increases in vegetation (greening) while only 3% had decreases (browning). This is the first study to produce a continent-scale map while still providing detailed information at the human scale.

  • Some 4 billion years ago, the sun shone with only about three-quarters the brightness we see today. Powerful solar explosions may have provided the crucial energy needed to warm Earth, despite the sun's faintness. The eruptions also may have furnished the energy needed to turn simple molecules into the complex molecules such as RNA and DNA that were necessary for life.

  • Surveyor 1 landed on the lunar surface on June 2, 1966, marking humanity's first controlled touchdown on the moon, and the robotic precursor to the Apollo astronaut missions to come.

  • The OSIRIS-REx mission, launching in September 2016, plans to return a sample of asteroid Bennu to Earth in 2023 so that scientists can study pristine material left over from the early solar system.

  • Nearly 10 billion years ago, the black hole at the center of a distant galaxy produced a powerful outburst, and light from this blast began arriving at Earth in 2012. Astronomers using data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and other space- and ground-based observatories have shown that a record-breaking neutrino seen around the same time likely was born in the same event.

  • Data from the Suomi NPP satellite is used by NASA scientists to map the full three-dimensional structure of volcanic clouds, allowing a more accurate forecast of where the volcanic ash is spreading. The information will be used by air traffic management to re-route flights around the hazardous ash clouds, which can damage airplane engines.

  • Experience the thrilling events of the first 50 years of NASA missions to the Red Planet, from Viking, to Pathfinder, and Curiosity.

  • Every two to seven years, an unusually warm pool of water-sometimes two to three degrees Celsius higher than normal-develops across the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. This warm condition, known as El Ni±o, can disrupt marine ecosystems and spur extreme weather patterns around the world. To predict it, NASA scientists use computer models that simulate ocean temperatures in the Pacific.

  • On June 5 2012, the Solar Dynamics Observatory collected images of the rarest predictable solar event-the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. This event lasted approximately 6 hours and happens in pairs eight years apart, which are separated from each other by 105 or 121 years.

  • Around 13 times per century, Mercury passes between Earth and the sun in a rare astronomical event known as a planetary transit. Mercury orbits in a plane that is tilted from Earth's orbit, moving above or below our line of sight to the sun. Here is the latest, captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on May 9, 2016.